This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide,”IT Modernization: How Government Does IT.” Download the full guide here.
The federal government spends nearly 80 percent of its annual IT budget on operating and maintaining existing systems. These legacy systems can cause many problems, including increased risk against cyber threats and an inability to provide the capabilities that government employees need, or that citizens want.
That’s why agencies are attempting to modernize their IT infrastructures to better support mission-critical functions. To achieve these missions, agencies need to embrace four key components of IT modernization: cloud computing, shared services, data center consolidation and Agile development.
In an interview with GovLoop, Ashok Sankar, Director of Solutions Strategy at Splunk, a recognized leader in data analytics and IT modernization, discussed how these four components can best be leveraged by incorporating a real-time data analytics platform into agency strategy and solutions.
A priority in the 2017 “Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization,” maximizing secure use of cloud computing is one cornerstone of the government’s overall IT modernization strategy. Cloud provides better elasticity, flexibility and performance than traditional on-premises options. Plus, it can create major cost savings for agencies when it’s scaled appropriately. Most importantly, cloud computing helps agencies adapt as technologies and user needs change.
For agencies to successfully migrate workloads to the cloud, they need granular visibility into migrations through continuous monitoring in real time. With a single event analytics platform, IT administrators and staff can not only monitor and facilitate successful migrations but also gain insights to resolve any issues with performance and availability of workloads.
“Splunk delivers operational insights in real time into the most popular cloud services during and after migrations,” Sankar said.
To prevent the procurement of separate technology solutions and then trying to integrate them in an ad-hoc manner, government should also turn to shared services – a model in which multiple organizations can procure the same solution, rather than having to seek individual systems to solve the same problem. Not only do shared services reduce costs by maximizing buying power, they also make it easier to standardize systems, operations and most importantly security.
Security Operations Centers as- a-service help agencies collect, organize, monitor and provide central visibility into the state of security on their network. A security analytics platform functions as a nerve center to a SOC.
“Splunk offers a flexible analytics-driven security platform to power an SOC and make its personnel and processes more effective,” Sankar said. “With the platform, all SOC personnel have quick access to all the data and contextual information needed to prioritize events and quickly detect, investigate and respond to threats.”
As government adds more tools and systems, agencies’ volume of data will also grow. Each new tool creates new data, in addition to new storage and computing needs for tech shops. That means agencies must revamp the way they manage and upgrade their data centers – where all that information is housed and accessed. In fact, the Data Center Optimization Initiative, or DCOI, requires federal agencies to do just that.
DCOI aims to optimize the usage and efficiency of federal data centers, which includes consolidating and maximizing server use and energy efficiency. Agencies can maximize success with a single platform that can deliver insights by monitoring activities to meet the standards, using a single interface.
“With Splunk, agencies can track capacity utilization and availability of managed space, gather energy efficiency such as power usage effectiveness, gain insights and monitor virtual machines and physical servers for utilization to calculate and meet DCOI targets,” Sankar said.
Finally, to effectively modernize government IT, Agile processes, specifically DevOps should support technology investments. DevOps is a software and application development approach in which developers and IT operations teams work in close collaboration throughout the lifecycle of a project. With DevOps, agencies can develop higher-quality digital services more efficiently because of the iterative and collaborative nature of the process. But to really get the benefits of DevOps, teams need a single place to access and analyze data.
“With the Splunk platform, you can collect, index and correlate data from multiple sources,” Sankar said. “Once your data is in, you can easily search and visualize that data. It can provide insights into any environment, including testing, staging and production.”
By incorporating the four components of IT modernization, and leveraging a true data analytics platform, agencies can increase their chances of successful IT modernization.